Need help! San Juan, St. Thomas, and Tortola ports...
My wife and I are traveling on the Miracle on August 30th. Our ports of call are San Juan, St. Thomas and Tortola.
I need some advice, if you don't mind. We are not in to shopping or "tours" and usually love to snorkel and relax at the beach.
We took the Conquest last September and made a big mistake by not booking an excursion in Cozumel and had a miserable day being heckled by all of the shops. We did the Stingray City tour in Grand Cayman and spent the day at Sunset Beach in Montego Bay and absolutely loved every minute of it!
We would like to find a quiet beach with some food options to just waste the day away by snorkeling, swimming, soaking, etc.
I would greatly appreciate any and all advice!!
For St.Thomas, if you want some place REALLY quiet and beautiful for snorkeling, try getting the ferry which leaves from the downtown area ($10 each way). There's a cheaper one out of Red Hook but it would cost too much for a taxi to there. Take the ferry which is a 15 minute ride to St.John. There they have a wonderful underwater snorkeling trail at "Trunk's Bay." There will be places to grab a soda, etc. I would fill up on the boat though, and just have a soda on the beach instead of eating there too. The ferry leaves the DT area at 9:00 AM & 11:00 AM. (later afternoon ones would be too late). Last one leaving Cruz Bay to DT is 3:45 PM so don't be late. Or you would have to take the one that will leave you at Red Hook. The taxi would probably charge about $15.00 each or so, to get from there to the ship. I believe your ship docks at Havensight if you want to do any shopping. The prices there are the same as the stores in Downtown.
If you didn't want to go to St.John, I would recommend Sapphire Beach, 2nd would be Magen's Bay. You can rent snorkeling stuff at either beach and both have all other immenities and restaurants, etc.
The walk to DT from the dock at Havensight is about 20 minutes at regular pace. Most taxis will try to lie and tell you it's over 2 miles- it's NOT! It's only a little over a mile I believe.
Puerto Rico doesn't have as good snorkeling so you might want to check out the Camuy Caves or something. Do a Google search for PR and places of interest.
I'm going to do some research regarding San Juan because my next cruise brings me there in the morning instead of 5:00 p.m.
In St. Thomas, the closest, nicest beach to the pier is Magens Bay. I believe the taxi cost $8/person one way and the entry fee is $4/person. You can rent lounge chairs ($5) and there is a restaurant/bar and restrooms. The sand is soft and silky, beautiful clean water, but snorkeling is not good here. If you want to snorkel, I have heard that Coki Beach has better snorkeling. Sapphire Beach is farther away from the pier...quiet pretty beach where you can rent lounge chairs but a dumpy restroom and small store where you can purchase soft drinks and souvenirs. Trunk Bay in St. Johns is beautiful but a hassle to get there. The boat ride from St. Thomas to St. Johns was approximately 45 minutes each way if I remember correctly.
In Tortola we booked the snorkeling tour thru Carnival...it was amazing, one of the best dive spots I've been to...after we snorkeled for an hour, they sailed to a lovely beach with a restaurant/bar for another hour. I have heard that Cane Garden Bay Beach is beautiful also.
There is a pretty long thread on Tortola a few pages back. Do a search and you will get all the info you want.
In St. Thomas I went to Magen's Bay. There is a small restaurant, a swim shop and a place to rent chairs/umbrellas. I don't snorkel but I had taken a small box of Cheerios off the ship with me and when I took a handful in the water (chest high), I was surrounded by beautiful silver fish about 6 inches long. It was an entire school of them. From what I understand for those who snorkel at Magen's Bay, a little further out and nearer the bay walls are giant turtles. Cabs are $8 each way and $4 entry fee. Very inexpensive way to spend the day. No ship excursion necessary. There are always a line of cabs at the beach waiting to take you back to the ship.
In Tortola, the place to be hands down is Cane Gardens Bay. It is one of the most beautiful beach areas I have ever been. There are several small restaurants along the beach that sell very inexpensive food (Lobster salad sandwich $6.95) and frozen cocktails. I purchased a mango daiquiri for $5 and the bartender literally peeled the mango, cut it up and put it in the blender with what seemed like a cup of rum . It was delish. Best I ever had. There are the men walking the beach selling coconut shells filled with coconut water and rum. There are chairs already lined up that go for $5 each. There is a small vendors market for beach towels, tote bags and souvenirs. I didn't see any fish but I only go in chest high. I did see some people snorkeling a bit further out.
Have no personal knowledge of St. Juan beaches. Have been there twice but have never ventured past the port area which is a shopping, bar-hopping, restaurant mecca.
Good luck and happy cruzin'
(cruzin' solo by design)
Freedom ('09), Imagination ('08), Victory ('08), Destiny ('08), RCCL Navigator ('08), RCCL Majesty ('08), Glory ('07), Liberty ('07), Fantasy ('07), Destiny ('06), NCL PofAm ('05), Fascination ('04), Victory ('04), Fascination ('04), RCCL Voyager ('03), Fantasy ('99)
Long Bay Beach in Tortola is BEAUTIFUL. Johnny Depp stayed there while filming the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. I took a taxi tour with a group of people (NEVER do these alone) and we met up with other passengers from Carnival who were on an excursion tour as well. Great restaurant and potent drinks at this resort and an absolutely beautiful beach!
Puerto Rico - I took the shopping and sights tour for $37, and it was NOT worth the money. We only went to Fort San Cristobal and the Capital building, which were impressive, and flew through Old San Juan. I would have liked to have spent more time in Old San Juan, but that's life! The shopping district was rather dirty, there were piles of garbage on the street and the traffic was awful (and we were there on a bank holiday, I can only imagine how much worse the traffic would have been on a normal day.) Save the money and walk to these areas, takes 15 minutes and you never lose sight of the ship.
St. Thomas : I LOVE Magen's Bay. Easy to get to by taxi, and you can kayak, snorkel, swim, and sunbathe. We also took the skyride for $17 through Carnival. We only bought the ticket through Carnival because if for some reason you don't go on the skyride, they will refund your money.
I assure you the ferry ride is no longer than 15-20 minutes each way from St.Thomas to St.John. Trunk Bay is the #1 place for snorkeling. Since you specifically mentioned snorkeling, I suggested Trunk Bay. Or if you wanted to stay in St.Thomas- then Sapphire Beach would have the best snorkeling. Magen's bay is beautiful but NoT good for snorkeling.
I've lived in St.Thomas for nearly 20 years now, so I would KNOW!
Enjoy your trip and be sure to give us your review when you get back.